Objectives: To evaluate the extent to which erectile dysfunction (ED) is managed by urologists versus non-urologists. We sought to characterize the epidemiology, diagnosis, and outpatient treatment of ED using a nationally representative cohort. Methods: We examined all male patient visits between 2006 and 2016 in the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a survey designed to provide a nationally representative estimate of ambulatory visits in the United States. Distribution of ED diagnoses among physician specialties was determined. Demographic, clinical, and treatment characteristics of men with ED seeing urologists versus non-urologists were compared using chi-squared tests. Results: Among the 170,499 patient visits analyzed, 1.2% were associated with a diagnosis of ED, which translated into 3,409,244 weighted visits annually. Visits for ED were predominantly seen by urologists (58.0%) and family practitioners (26.2%). Men visiting non-urologists for ED were more likely to be younger than 65 (77.4% vs 52.9%, P <.05). Men seeing urologists for ED more frequently had an active cancer diagnosis (24.2% vs 2.8%, P <.05). Non-urologists more readily ordered or reordered phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors for men with ED (66.62% vs 50.77%, P <.05). Advanced therapies such as intracavernosal injections and intra-urethral agents were almost exclusively ordered by urologists compared to non-urologists (2.72% vs 0.25%, P <.05). Conclusion: Almost half of all ED visits were seen by non-urologist providers, who were much less likely than urologists to order advanced pharmacologic therapies. This difference in prescribing patterns presents an opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration and education to ensure that all patients seeking treatment for ED are receiving guideline-based care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas